Portrait Study of a Man on Horseback with His Groom

pen and brown ink sketch of man in hat with plume, seated on upright horse, next to man bending over

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
Portrait Study of a Man on Horseback with His Groom, 1620–21
(or 1628–32?)
Pen and brown ink
9 1/16 × 9 5/8 in. (23 × 24.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Gift of Harold K. Hochschild, 1940

Throughout his career, Van Dyck proved himself an inventive painter of equestrian portraits. Here, he shows the horse not in profile but turning away from the viewer, an idea developed in the portrait from around 1630 of Albert de Ligne, Count of Arenberg (Holkham Hall), referred to in the inscription at lower left. While the drawing has been related to that painting, the relative finish and robust style suggest that it should be dated before 1621. Because none of the sitters from Van Dyck’s early years in Antwerp hailed from the aristocracy to which this mounted commander clearly belongs, the drawing was probably made during Van Dyck’s stay in England in 1620–21, possibly for a never executed portrait of his main patron then, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.

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